Assignment: Find an example of how a company or an individual has had their reputation put at risk by social media activity. This should NOT be an example covered in the video lecture or readings. Explore how the company or individual responded and discuss what action you would have taken.
In September of 2014, NFL player Ray Rice was facing public scrutiny for abusing his wife Janay. For those of you that didn’t see the incident on the news, YouTube or SportsCenter, Ray hit his wife knocking her out cold in an elevator, which he later dragged her out of. I’m not getting into the politics of what she may have said or done prior, their relationship history, or anything of that nature – the assault was shocking and definitely not a laughing matter.
To raise awareness about domestic violence and the seriousness of the matter surrounding the Rice’s, a Twitter hashtag, actually hashtags, were created. Many women, including celebrities, opened up about their personal experiences of being victimized by a significant other. Women shared their reasonings for both staying in the relationship (#whyistayed) and/or leaving (#whyileft).
DiGiorno pizza is apparently known for making snarky, satirical comments on Twitter, and frequently utilizes hashtags, especially those that are trending. However, DiGiorno’s cold, comedic heart got burned when they didn’t do their homework and insensitively misused the hashtag #whyistayed.
DiGiorno eagerly used the trending hashtag without doing the miniscule amount of research necessary to determine the actual message behind the #. In their consistently satirical tone they tweeted the following:
Ready, set…BACK PEDAL. Almost instantaneously DiGiorno realized the PR nightmare they had created removed the Tweet and replaced it with an apology.
But they didn’t stop there, and nor should they have. DiGiorno responded and apologized to individual Twitter users’ tweets as well, and while the apologies got somewhat monotonous and lost their genuity (in my opinion), they didn’t stop apologizing….how could they?
As stated in this Washington Post article, “brands are people too – and sometimes people make idiots of themselves.” The article also appropriately groups DiGiorno with some other idiot brands, guilt of making some social media mistakes. But hey, we’re human..right? Apologies can go a long way in relationships, in particular face-to-face; however, I don’t know that they hold the same value in 140 characters or less, particularly from a corporate brand with deep pockets. Money talks.
DiGiorno may not have done their research before tweeting, but it’s possible they learned from other social media mistakes such as the Red Cross and Dogfish Head #gettngslizzered incident. Red Cross was fortunate to have Dogfish Head step in as an ally, but DiGiorno was responsible for their own damage control and wiping the pizza of their embarrassed faces. DiGiorno’s efforts to repair the damage have been honorable and were in fact rather timely, given October (the following month) was domestic violence awareness month.
To successfully recover, DiGiorno had to put their money where their mouth was and turn apologies into dollar signs.